This morning, I had some time to kill in Carlsbad, so I took myself to see Silver Linings Playbook. I read the book several weeks ago and was very curious to see how the movie compared. The novel version was a solid story, but I didn't love it and couldn't quite understand how the movie version would be significantly better for all of the accolades that it has been receiving.
Nearly always, the novel is better than the movie version. In this case, the movie version was better than the book. Not just better, but very different, including changing key plot points and a shift in focus.
I enjoyed the book version, but it was often a tedious read, bogged down with clunky prose. The screenplay cleaned up the pacing and eliminated the tedium. The novel version was sparse on dialogue, weighing it down.
The novel has a heavy focus on the main character, Pat and Pat's relationship with both this father and brother. It's a male centric story. Although still important, the movie version tones this down.
The movie version makes the character of Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, a central character, rather than a minor character. I think this was the best shift in the story, as the character of Tiffany is so rich and multifaceted, that I longed for more of her in the novel. Lawrence steals every scene. The whole cast is strong, but Lawrence is the star and makes the movie.
The movie does have a minor love story component that was not as strong in the book, but it works. It's not at all sappy or false. The dance competition is very different from the book, but it also works, as you can't help but smile and root for the characters. It lightens the tone. Ultimately, the movie version is more uplifting, without straying from the core themes and emotions of the original story.
There were some moments that I missed from the novel, in particular Pat's mom and her struggles were greatly minimized. I also missed the moment where Pat meets his sister-in-law, a character eliminated in the movie version.
As much as I love books, I have to recommend skip the book and see the movie. Matthew Quick came up with a great idea for the story and characters, but it's David O. Russell's screenplay that really executes the idea and brings the story to life.